TheNewspaper.com: Driving Politics
Home >Police Enforcement > Drunk Driving Laws > VA Prosecutors Take Presumption of Guilt Question to Court 
Print It Email It Tweet It

10/30/2005
VA Prosecutors Take Presumption of Guilt Question to Court
Virginia appeals court will soon rule on the rebuttable presumption doctrine that underlines DUI and photo enforcement laws.

DUI stop
A Fairfax County, Virginia Circuit Court will begin hearing a challenge to the rulings of General District Court Judge Ian O'Flaherty who began dismissing driving under the influence (DUI) cases in July, saying that Virginia law unconstitutionally presumed the guilt of defendants. Prosecutors want to take the Circuit Court ruling to an appeals court so that precedents will be set to prevent O'Flaherty's actions.

The question the court must resolve is whether a "rebuttable presumption" unfairly shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense. O'Flaherty argues that such presumptions -- the key to obtaining easy convictions with DUI and photo enforcement cases -- violate the Fifth Amendment. Prosecutors, he said, must prove every element of the case. He cites the 1985 Supreme Court ruling Francis v. Franklin in support.

For example, if a breath test shows a blood alcohol reading of 0.81, a defendant is automatically considered guilty under the law. O'Flaherty believes the prosecution must also prove -- not assume -- that the driver was actually drunk and impaired at the time he was driving. Some evidence suggests blood alcohol readings can rise over time as alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream.


Source: Va. Drunken Driving Law Challenged in Fairfax Court (Washington Post, 10/28/2005)

Regional News:
Other news about Fairfax County, Virginia



Permanent Link for this item
Return to Front Page


Related News
Ohio Supreme Court Clears Strip Club In Drunk Stripper Accident

Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Driving While High

Ohio Court Upholds Right To Warn Of Roadblocks

Virginia Supreme Court Says A Private Parking Lot Is Not A Highway

Iowa Supreme Court Nullifies DUI Arrest Fees




View Main Topics:

Get Email Updates
Subscribe with Google
Subscribe via RSS or E-Mail

Back To Front Page


Front Page | Get Updates | Site Map | News Archive | Search | RSS Feed
TheNewspaper.com: Driving politics
TheNewspaper.com